Wait, wait! First the Golden Globes, THEN the Oscar nominations.

I know, I know: old and slow. My only possible defense is that we have either been guests or had guests since December 23rd, a sojourn involving passports, dear distant family, dear semi-distant friends and a last emotional good-bye at the airport yesterday. The cats barely know what lap to turn to, while I’m summoning up all my reserves to turn up in two  matching shoes.

To get to those Globes: they were just Sunday and I know I’m behind on the newspapers, but where’s the outrage? Or even the irony over the results of the Globes TV Movies or Mini-series category I’m talking about the sublime Olive Kitteridge, anchored by the unsparing eloquence of Frances McDormand, being beaten by the TV show Fargo. Let’s be honest, the initial good will of  Fargo-the-miniseries would never have existed without our collective infatuation with McDormand’s singular character in, ummm, Fargo-the-film. (Just the memory of the actress’s back, squared in rectitude as she marched up to get her Fargo Oscar in 1997 is enough to kick off a smile.)


Following that, in an act enough to make our Fran swear off getting all dressed up forever, she lost — a seeming impossibility –in the Globe’s Best Actress category, to Maggie Gyllenhaal as The Honorable Woman, running, running, running as she brought peace, sex and swell clothes to the deadly Israeli/Palestinian cats-cradle.

Did the assembled Hollywood Foreign Press see Olive Kitteridge?  Did its essential Yankee-ness not play well with them, or just not as well as a semi-optimistic middle-East melodrama?  Unlikely that we’ll ever know, but the double loss is as stunning as it is opaque.

HBO put together a pretty representative trailer for Kitteridge, for those outside the HFP who missed it. (You can find it at the IMBd listing for the film.)  I’m especially partial to it because it opens with McDormand and an actor new to me, Cory Michael Smith, who seems to positively glow with potential (as well as a darting sense of humor.)

It’s unfair, really to single out Smith, when each of Kitteridge’s actors seems the inevitable. . irrevocable choice, top to bottom: Richard Jenkins as Olive’s husband, against all odds, in for the long haul; Zoe Kazan as “the mouse” at his drugstore and in his life; Peter Mullan as Olive’s singular fellow-teacher, a man with a passion for, among others, John Berryman; John Gallagher Jr., as Olive’s deeply put-upon adult son, Martha Wainwright’s lounge singer extraordinaire.  Clearly I cannot run through each actor and character, there isn’t a wrong player in this chamber piece, you’ll just have to meet them for yourself. You will, won’t you?

OliveK_Fran & RJ

Watching it again, post Globes, was the chance to pick up on more of its almost throw-away snap and edge. To notice the way Jane Anderson’s canny adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s multi-prize-winning novel lingers here and pares there to fit into 4 hours (even though, as McDormand said — channeling Olive — “Could have been 6.”)  To consider the ways in which Lisa Cholodenko has bloomed as a director (from her blazing opener High Art.) To remember the startling collaboration of actress and director once before (Laurel Canyon), as Cholodenko pulled out usually hidden facets of McDormand, which have deepened into this portrait of the prickly, wounded, complex Olive. Mostly, the fun of a second viewing came from watching all the interactions, delicate or blunt, among this pitch-perfect cast, and to luxuriate in the story’s deep humanism.


And then I simply wanted to sit on the floor and howl in outrage.

Well, time to pick myself up and make a note or two about the Oscar nominations. Plenty to celebrate — and howl about — there. Helluva way to observe Martin Luther King day, Academy. .


5 thoughts on “Wait, wait! First the Golden Globes, THEN the Oscar nominations.

  1. I am grateful to have been reminded to watch OLIVE K at long last, and I can second your every motion as far as asserting its virtues is concerned. Where we dramatically part company is the question of the miniseries’ clear superiority to everything else in contention for awards. FARGO, which took the award in OK’s category, wasn’t just “a TV show”–it was a sharp, witty, imaginative, constantly surprising and disquieting long-form narrative, with as many striking performances as OK. Moreover, it didn’t replicate or feed vampirically off the Coen movie, let alone McDormand’s (magnificent) central performance; indeed, the frequency with which it “didn’t go there” was one of the series’ great delights. Moreover, FARGO wasn’t the only other OLIVE-class nominee. TRUE DETECTIVE featured some of the most exciting acting, writing, and directing of the year and, like FARGO, cinemaworthy visual excitement. As for THE HONOURABLE WOMAN, Maggie Gyllenhaal was superb, and the miniseries itself was a good deal more complex–and humane–than your brushoff suggests. Really, it continues to be astonishing how much first-rate work is being done for TV, cable, and now streaming. We needn’t blow it all away except for the one show we happen to favor. Rather, be grateful that the Golden Globes–the Golden Globes!!!–managed to nominate so many authentic achievements.

  2. Pingback: Parallax ViewWait, wait! First the Golden Globes, THEN the Oscar nominations. - Parallax View

  3. I haven’t seen Olive Kittredge yet, but all I hear is great stuff. And Frances McDormand is always amazing so I have no question in my mind that she is nothing less than extraordinary. Can’t wait to see it (I don’t have HBO). That said, I thought THE HONORABLE WOMAN was terrific. Smart, taught, well-acted. Was more than a political melodrama to me. It’s the kind of television I would, personally, like to see more of. And I didn’t find it particularly optimistic. I found it to be a frightening and disturbing tale with very little hope for a bright political future in the Middle-East. Reminded me, tonally, of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. Hugo Blick also wrote and directed the series THE SHADOW LINE which is one of my fave Brit series of recent years. I can’t say Maggie Gyllenhaal deserved the award over McDormand, but I never give much credibility to any award show, their nominees or winners. I, for one, am just happy that HONORABLE WOMAN received any attention at all. And I’m glad Lisa Cholodenko directed Olive Kittredge. I admire her work, but was terribly disappointed with THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT which I actually found mildly insulting on a number of levels. Not up to her usual high standard of quality storytelling. Glad she’s back with something I’m expecting to really enjoy and admire.

  4. Trouble is I never got to see Olive Kittredge and will have to wait for Netflix to carry it. But I did read the book and found it one of the most amazingly satisfying reads in the past years. I can’t remember an author creating a more unacceptable protagonist in a more sympathetic manner, which is why she comes alive on the page. Obviously Frances McDormand was able to achieve the same miracle.

    I assume you’ve seen Ida? I think an amazing movie. Hope all goes well with you guys. Happy New Year!


  5. Sheila,

    I miss your wonderful writing so it’s good to be on this e-mail list.

    The piece you did on Champlin was amazing.

    Hope you and Herman are well.

    Carol and I are plodding along, thinking about retirement at year’s end, but not sure. CSPR is doing well with six of us still touting the Blu-ray and DVD praises (cf Variety, as in”praisery”) for Sony, Disney and Warner. I’ve had my own agency for longer than I was at WB.

    Our kids are also well. Gabe, 43, is in SD, doing IT and document management for a consulting company. His and wife Faye’s daughter, Daisy, is 7. Steve, 28, is in NYC, doing marketing for an online retailer. He had a brief fling with medicine for a year at a post Baccalaureate program at Columbia, but found it needed more devotion, time and money than he was willing to give. His background is marketing so he was easily able to slip back into that.

    Meanwhile, stay well and keep those words comin’…



    carl samrock public relations inc. | 330 north screenland drive | burbank, ca 91505 | o: 818-260-0777 | cel: 818-422-2284 | e: carlsamrock@cs-pr.com

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